Recently I came across a video that presents a startling picture of how things can be when the remedy is merely substituting the dominant narrative for that of the group whose ideas have been absent from the larger discourse. The video presents a society where being homosexual is the rule. The story begins with a young girl stating all of the ways in which her family is the most typical, “All-American family.” Caring moms raise her in a house of love. As she gets older, she experiences a disconnect from this society when she realizes that she might be attracted to boys. The bullying that she suffers shows how it doesn’t matter what theory holds the dominant position if it results in the subordination of the other group. It’s also important to note that those in the dominant position are situated to determine through disseminating information what is correct or “factual.”
This introduces an important point that what is factual or knowledge is not objective. Some sociologists believe that people come to knowledge through their own experiences. The concept of standpoint theory considers that individuals experience society based on the lived experiences. Those experiences affect the way they understand, accept and internalize information. Thinking about the video, the young girl had lived in a loving family with two moms. She lived in a society where that was the dominant model of relationships. When she felt a different attraction that was not represented in her lived experience, she felt conflicted and isolated from her community and her family. The conflict that she felt seems to relate to an overall critique of classical theory in that the experiences of those who are not white, middle to upper class and male experience when they encounter this canonical theory. When the standpoint of the diverse perspectives of society is absent from the dominant narrative of society, there is bound to be discord.
I see this discord as valuable. Now that the critique has been made, ideas have been put forth about solutions and other theories from more diverse standpoints have become more visible, it is now time to adjust the standard. As Connell puts it, it’s now time to “Diffuse the Canon.